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How to develop a growth mindset
How to think creatively and outside the box
How to embrace change
Paid media advertising — the bread-and-butter of big brands — can be cost-prohibitive for small businesses. Ad budgets can quickly become bloated without contributing to growth.
New small business owners often assume that paid advertising is crucial to getting customers. A few Google or Facebook ads can easily rack up thousands in ad spend per month. Unfortunately, advertising has a poor ROI compared to other forms of marketing, especially for new businesses.
Today’s consumers are averse to ads. If they’re not actively blocking them with browser plugins, they’re simply tuning them out. This isn’t to say ads never work, but for small businesses, they can be a wasted expense.
Always lead with a strong marketing strategy that reliably connects you with potential customers — even if you’re short on advertising funds for a month. Consumers don’t like to see ads, but they do enjoy gaining value.
Outbound marketing entails advertising, cold-calling, and other tactics we commonly think of as “marketing.” This approach is also called interruptive marketing: the idea is that you capture consumers’ attention and create an urgency to buy from you. Outbound marketing can be quite expensive because you must purchase advertising space or pay for labour to perform outreach.
Inbound marketing is also called attraction marketing because it draws customers to you. Inbound strategies include content marketing (social media, blogs, videos, etc.), opt-in-based email lists, and earned media.
Small businesses must start with a thorough understanding of their potential customers. What makes them tick? Once you know that, you can start promoting your business in a way that resonates with your target audience.
Ask yourself three questions:
The answers to these questions compose your value proposition.
Your value proposition is a concise statement of what your business uniquely provides to your customers and how it benefits them. Don’t confuse this with your company’s values or mission. The value proposition defines your relationship with your customers. What can they expect from you, and why is that important to them?
Your value proposition should include your points of difference: what sets you apart from your competitors. Small businesses often find it challenging to compete on price alone.
There is a wide variety of channels, both digital and physical:
Instead of focusing on “campaigns,” think about your overall business goals and how you can turn them into sustainable efforts. More often than not, you’ll have ongoing results you want to achieve. Perhaps you want to generate at least 500 new leads per month, but you also want to increase your conversion rate for previous customers from 10% to 15%.
These goals require different tactics: perhaps a time-limited direct mail campaign for the former and more frequent email newsletters for the latter.
The nice thing about paid advertising is that it’s relatively easy. Select your audience and keywords, upload your creative, and wait for results. Inbound marketing, by contrast, requires a lot more time even if it’s cheaper. You may gain a higher ROI and more revenue from high-value blogs, videos, press interviews, and so on, but those all take significantly more time than tossing together an ad.
Social listening tools take the guesswork out of content creation and brand monitoring. Even the most thorough audience research can’t predict which topics, keywords, and links will resonate most with your target audience. Pay attention to these so you know how to optimise your marketing content. Some helpful platforms:
A marketing automation platform such as SharpSpring takes care of repetitive tasks and helps your team build stronger relationships with both leads and customers.
Marketing automation allows you to send targeted messages depending on each lead’s origin and activity, as well as coordinate your email outreach and social content. Ideally, your marketing automation platform also integrates with a CRM to handle sales and subsequent upsells/renewals and retention.
To optimise your content before it goes out to your audience, check out these helpful tools:
Sales enablement is an emerging field that entails better coordination of marketing and sales teams. The idea is to share data from website analytics and social insights with sales reps, as well as CRM data and service requests with marketers. This allows a small business to better understand its customers’ life cycle, pain points, and preferences.
Your marketing automation and CRM platforms both feed into sales enablement, but you’ll also need to set up internal workflows to tweak campaigns and processes. Utilise tools like Clickup, Asana and Highspot.
The right mix of cost-efficient inbound and outbound marketing allows SMEs to grow their customer base without hurting their profits. Here are the best marketing strategies for small businesses.
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